Samsung Galaxy S6: Australian Hands-On

The covers are off! The Samsung Galaxy S6 is here, and we've been hands-on from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. So what's it like? In a word: surprising.


• More: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Double-Edged Phone

• More: Samsung Galaxy S6 Live Blog: All The News As It Happened


Gizmodo loves technology. Our product reviews are presented thanks to Dick Smith.

Surprising is kind of a mean thing to say, really. Samsung has always made good devices, but the S6 is definitely the best. It's verging on great.



The Galaxy S6 is powered by an octa-core processor. That's made up of a quad-core 2.1GHz processor and a quad-core 1.5Ghz processor sandwiched together to produce a stupid amount of power. That's backed up by 3GB of RAM and a 2550mAh battery to keep it all going.

Other features include a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera — complete with Optical Image Stabilisation — a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the same heart-rate monitor built into the flash unit from the Samsung Galaxy S5, a fingerprint scanner you no longer have to swipe your finger over and Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Of course, with fun new additions come some subtractions that might get a few fans off-side. The S6 has an integrated battery, no back cover and no expandable microSD storage slot. On top of that, Samsung has backed away from USB 3.0 for its data and charging port, and replaced it with the same USB 2.0 port we used to have. We'll come back to this later.


The first thing you notice about the Galaxy S6 is its incredible design. When Samsung was building the S6, it ran under the internal codename of "Project Zero". Basically that means Samsung took a step back from everything it had already built and reset itself slightly for the new flagship S phone.

It listened to the complaints from users saying it's too plasticky, and built the front and back cover out of strong, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 4. On the back cover, Samsung worked out a new way to treat the colour layer under the Gorilla Glass to give it an almost shimmering finish. I hate that word, but it really does shimmer when it catches the light.

It's never the same colour twice. It comes in black, white and gold. Those three colours are exclusive across the S6 and S6 Edge range, but there's one especially pretty S6 exclusive colour, which is a beautiful crystal-like blue. It's shiny and gorgeous and begs to be touched.

The second thing you notice as soon as you do touch it is the weight. It's just 138 grams in the palm of your hand, and it finally feels like a featherweight piece of premium tech. It's a slab of shiny future that I can't get enough of.


You won't have long to pause on the weight or design once you turn the screen on, however. It's packing a 5.1-inch Quad-HD Super AMOLED screen. That's a screen resolution of 2560x1440, with 577 pixels per inch. Holy. Crap. It is beautiful.

The S6 is still running TouchWiz, but as part of Samsung's new simplification process, it's much less of a burden than it used to be. TouchWiz used to be a bloated, overbearing UI that got in the way of the perfectly excellent Android experience. Samsung has now stripped most of the S-branded apps off the device to keep it nice and quick, leaving just S-Health on there while making the others optional extras.

The animations and icons have been upgraded, and thanks to the amazing processor, there's no lag or stutter from the OS. The Exynos octa-core processor also allows for a 64-bit architecture, with faster RAM and memory components also speeding up the whole affair. We'll know more about its performance when we get one to review.

It's more than just a surface upgrade, however. Samsung has also been doing some work under the hood to make the S6 an overall better device than the previous S models.

The octacore reportedly sips battery from its 2550mAh cell. So much so that it can charge from empty to 100 per cent in just 80 minutes, while a fast charge of just 10 minutes is enough for it to churn through two hours of video playback or four hours of standby time.

The camera has a swathe of fancy new tech, including face tracking for moving subjects (kids just won't stand still these days) and infrared white balancing. The lens on the rear-facing camera is an f/1.9 lens, compared to the GS5's f/2.2.

That widening has gone on at the front, too, with the front-facing camera packing a constant f/1.9 lens compared to the GS5's f/2.4. The front-facing camera also now supports auto-real time HDR when previously it only worked on the GS5's rear-facing module.

Samsung has also integrated a double-click shortcut into the home button that launches the camera app from any screen, even from lock. Time to first shot is reportedly just 0.7 seconds.

Of course, simplifying the whole affair means making sacrifices. That means a fully integrated battery and no expandable storage. To soothe your rancour, Samsung is giving its customers 115GB of Microsoft OneDrive storage (not Google Drive anymore) for free for two years. It's disappointing to see Samsung walk away from one of its unique selling points, but a fully closed unit is what makes the Galaxy S6 so pretty. There was to be no compromise on design this time around.

After years of criticism over less-than-premium, plastic phones and S-branded everything, Samsung is standing at attention. It's a hungrier company which is more keen than ever to release another smash hit. They had the next big thing with the Note when it was first released, and now it's looking to rebottle the lightning.

The S6 dazzles like lightning, is as quick as lightning and is almost as powerful with its octacore Exynos guts. It's an impressive gadget, but whether the public thinks so remains to be seen.

Samsung has confirmed that the S6 will launch in Australia and will be arriving down under shortly. We don’t yet have a firm launch date or price, but we are waiting with bated breath.

Luke Hopewell travelled to Mobile World Congress 2015 as a guest of Samsung.


Comments

    So metal and glass, solid frame, built in battery for a slimmer and sturdier feel, proper finger print scanner built into the home button that is now larger and obviously important to Samsung new payment system samsung pay, round metal edges, speaker and headphone to the bottom of the phone, uni body....

    This is the best Samsung phone I have ever seen!

      The best iPhone you've ever seen.*

        ^^ lol if you look from the bottom, looks similar to iphone 6

          Which looks like z2 z3 z4 lol

        So does the HTC. Metal retangular phones all look the same.

          look again. the HTC does not look anything like the bottom of the iphone 6. the S6 here....well thats a straight up copy on all sides.

            who cares. still better than an apple sheeple

              I have to give to Samsung though, jam pack a lot of stuff in it with crazy display resolution
              to bad they remove the SD support but who knows soon they might have 512GB internal storage :D

                Thats the word getting around apple will start this off with iphone 6s or 7.. maybe note 5???

        Yep, glass back, no SD, no battery swap - all dealbreakers for me.

    No Micro St means no purchase even though I like the rest

      Agreed ! I cannot believe Samsung got rid of the micro sd card slot. Why ????? Ill be waiting for the Xperia Z4 when it gets released mid year.

    No removable battery, no removable SD storage. Interesting design choices.

      Now in the same league as HTC and Apple.
      Why not just keep the removable battery and SD storage options?

        At least htc does sd cards.

          It does? It must be one of those features they left off my HTC One. Maybe it's in the later versions.

            M8 has it, M9 does too. Glad they added it, it tipped me over from a string of galaxies to htc (that, sense, and the camera) . The M7 didn't really do it for me.

              I'm not sure which one I've got. It was the one from a couple of years ago. M7 maybe? Still a fine phone and I've never missed not having the extra RAM. I use the cloud for everything now, including most of my music. I have a special "driving playlist" for when I'm out of mobile range, but that doesn't happen often.

                I don't think RAM is what you think it is..

                  Yeah. Yeah. I should have said storage. Don't post while distracted.

          Not hard to fit it in that 10mm device honestly?

      This is a really disappointing release. They have also walked away from the waterproofing/shockproofing/dustproofing which was a brilliant feature.

      Samsung have previously lagged on battery performance, and without a replaceable battery this could be a huge drawback.

      Cloud storage over SD isn't going to be well received given Australia's comparatively poor mobile data allowances.

        specially with that octo core CPU, good luck with battery.

          Umm, from the description the main purpose of the Octa processor is to SAVE battery.

          ummm half or more the cores wont be used as ni software on the planet uses 8 cores

        just get the s6 active then. its the same as the s5.

        why do you want a flagship phone when the active version is there.
        the s5 version was stupid tbh since the s5 active did everything the s5 did.

      Looks great. I was swearing to myself only yesterday that I wouldn't be buying another Samsung and HTC were pretty much guaranteed my money. Not so sure now..

        I know, me too. The contract is up on my Galaxy S4 and i swore I'd give another manufacturer a run. Each one seems to have issues though, like Sony having self cracking screens or HTC having battery issues and sub standard camera. Then Samsung go and hit it of of the park with this S6. Bloody hell.

      Yeah as soon as I read that I switched off, and none of the other specs mattered. Deal breaker.

    I do not regret getting the Note 4 now. Totally stoked

      My S4 contract is up in September with Optus but I can upgrade in June. Have been considering a Note 4. What's the absolute advantage can you tell me? Not being sarcastic or anything but from a user standpoint.

    Well that is all very boring. I know Apple cops a lot of flack for their design choices sometimes but at least their phones look a little different with every new generation. I still have a Galaxy 4 as a work phone and it pretty much looks like this 6.

      That's not being genuine the 3 and 3s looked the same so did the 4,4s, 5 & 5s the 6 had the same look but a totally different design that's why it sold so much the fans were hungry for change if samsung had made this instead of the alpha Apple sales would be lower.

        Dude, look at the 3 then look at the S6 above. S6 is thinner and has what looks like the same sides as an iPhone 6 and it is slightly squarer than the 3. Im holding my 3 in my hand at the moment and honestly, there is not much of a difference. Bezel, slightest shape change, .....not much else.

        Last edited 02/03/15 12:56 pm

        Yeah I loved my apple 3S. Definitely their best phone release!!! Oh wait....

          They're probably referring to the 3GS, which was marketed as 3S in some areas.

        It's hilarious how apple fans all of the sudden completely forget everything. Apple have been releasing phones that are designed EXACTLY the same as the previous generations, with slightly better hardware and slapping an S at the end of it's number.

        Actually... what am I talking about? Apple is completely innovative every single time they release a phone, they've never copied anyone and are the best hands down. Every other phone sucks and they copy Apple.

    At the risk of starting a flame war, those photos are basically a blue iPhone 6, even down to the rubber bits around the edges for the aerial. (Not so) Coincidentally, it's also the first Samsung phone that has my interest.

    That's all very nice but,

    Is it still IP67 rated?
    Can you jailbreak it?
    Does it have FM radio?
    Can you turn off the stupid Samsung "privacylawthatdoesn'texist" shutter noise?
    Can you get more than 24hrs very light usage out of the battery?

    Consumers wanna know...

      This is just a hands-on, so we wont get all the info yet :(

      I don't think it'll be IP67, as all of the ports seem to be very open.
      Of course you'll be able to jail break it.
      FM radio is probably something you'll have to wait to know about.
      Of course you can turn it off that sound. (Sometimes you need to be creative with how to do it though)
      The battery is down from the S5, but I'd imagine that that would've been a big concern with the integrated battery. (maybe?)

      I can't comment on the GS6 but my note 4 silences the shutter sound on the camera when on silent unlike any other galaxy I have used. It may be the same in the GS6

      "Does it have FM radio?" I thought that was a cool function as well ... but because I use a bluetooth headset, it's something I never got to use. I'd love a radio if you didn't need plug in headphones.

        When you spend a lot of time OS or out of service area, it's an essential. Why should you carry another piece of tech when Nokia had them in their phones since the 90s?

          Fair enough. I just wish they could put in some kind of internal aerial instead of needing headphones plugged in.

            Problem is that you can't really fit an efficient antenna for FM 100Mhz into a mobile phone.

      can you get an iphone 6 more than 24 hours? yes. and i have it.

      ip67 rated - go to the active version
      jailbreak - likely, look at the xperia z line up or the htc m lineup.
      no fm radio - most people use podcasts these days. i dont even listen to the radio
      shutter noise - apparenly you can if you mute the phone.

    so is this now super waterproof? now that the back no longer opens and everything is enclosed.

    wow. almost was upset that i just got the Note Edge, but after just reading about integrated battery and no SD card. thats a deal breaker for me.

    Without being able to expand the storage locally, I have no interest in one of these and will be sticking to my S5, which works perfectly well.

    I seriously couldn't give a stuff about SD slots and removable batteries. I think it is a step in the right direction. What annoys me is that it has got USB2 and a potentially short battery life.
    What I like is the wireless charging and the unnecessary screen resolution.

    Looks like I'm getting the M9.

    I don't mind the loss of the SD card as there will reportedly a 128GB option.

    It should also be noted that the fingerprint sensor no longer requires the user to 'swipe' their finger, as per the S5. As someone that has used one of these swipe fingerprint sensors I can vouch for them being very unreliable and not at all convenient. So moving to a press and hold finger print sensor is a very positive change.

    Last edited 02/03/15 10:31 am

    Not a fan of this white/gold phone

      Ok - I'll be the guy:
      Dude, it's black and blue!

      sorry, sorry... i'll get me coat!

    I guess they wanted to retain that 'iconic' Samsung Galaxy 4 look.
    But, that TouchWiz. Burnt once...

      I don't see why TouchWiz is deal breaker for some people. It's so easy to replace TouchWiz with any number of the great Launcher alternatives. My Note 3 runs Nova Launcher Prime, and I find that some of the additional settings/options Samsung adds to their Android roms, in conjunction with Nova Launcher, actually makes for a great combination.

        Yeah. I never use the phone's native UI. Nova Launcher for me any day.

    the blue colour for me seemed more like a plastic sticker that hasn't been taken off the phone yet

    wow. looks like Samsung have just created an iphone.

      agreed. what a disapointment. dont get me wrong, the iphone 6 is a nice looking phone but....i was expecting more of the S6.

    Having no SD card is a total deal breaker for me. Telstra seem to only offer the lower sized internal RAM phones here in Australia.. Was disappointed to know I could only get a 16GB phone when I really wanted the 32GB version.

    If Telstra do that here again its a total write off for a lot of people even if they offer the offline storage which is easy to get for google drive which is fairly cheap even if you do pay for it.

    Doing so makes putting ROMs from XDA (not counting sideloaded) onto it pretty hard work, basically a no go.

    Last edited 02/03/15 11:57 am

    You forgot to mention that the Exynos 7420 powering it is built on a 14nm die size. So the CPU will use a lot less power than any other on the market. Hence the "small" battery

      You could mention that, but since the screen uses most of the phone's power, its gotten bigger, and its tech hasn't changed, the point would be somewhat moot unless you are crunching SETI packets.

        They wouldn't willingly reduce the battery life compared to the S5. They even stated it'd be on par.
        Perhaps less bloatware has something to do with it too :P

        the flash memory is now ssd equivalent meaning it loads faster.
        also it is power efficient as well.

        Last edited 03/03/15 6:54 pm

    So unless you are a Samsung fan, why would you buy this?

    Especially when you can get a Oppo or other Chinese flagship for much cheaper.

      Absolutely. Oppo/Huawei are much cheaper and still pack the latest LTE standards, correct LTE bands, and so on.

      That's another thing - does this phone support Category 9 LTE?

      Stats on paper are one thing but sometimes in the use of a phone other problems start to arise. I was all ready to sell my S4 for a Nexus 5 as I use my phone for 8 hours a day with GPS for work and the samsung GPS can be very flaky at times (all those I work with have the same issue with the S4).

      A couple have now moved to Nexus's and have since discovered a car charger can't charge the phone faster then it runs down using google maps. So over an 8 hour shift your phone will die even if it's plugged in the whole time.

      So as much as I'd love to say that Oppo or Oneplusone or others are the answer I would really want to see how they stand up to this sort of use. Stats don't show that.

        Yes but the one plus one 64GB is under $400 US the 64GB S6 is what $1000. Buy two if you want.

          That would be a PITA. As its my main tool of trade price is not the issue its all down to performance.

        The problem isn't the phone most car chargers don't output much power (generally 1A-1.5A max which is fine for a phone on standby but the moment you start actually using the screen or BT and it gennerally struggles).

        solution:
        1. go to autobarn
        2. buy an aerpro dual usb tab/ipad charger (its 3.1A so it wont have any problem charging your phone no matter how much power its using)
        3. make sure you have a decent USB cable
        4. problem solved

        Ive had one for ages and it works a treat. It can charge my phone while its running at full bore as fast as my house charger can while its on standby. Dw about damaging it though cause the phones battery will only take what it needs on top of what the phone is using.

          My S4 can be running Google Maps and streaming spotify via bluetooth with the screen on constantly full blast and it still charges quickly and stays full. Doesn't get nearly as hot as my old Nexus 4 which struggled to keep its charge in the same vehicle. This is just one example of real world performance that stats don't tell you.

          I'm sure there's other examples where other handsets end up on top. My point is that phones arent a one size fits all and you can't just look at a hands on like this and make a blanket statement that everyone would be better off with XYZ phone.

        A couple have now moved to Nexus's and have since discovered a car charger can't charge the phone faster then it runs down using google maps. So over an 8 hour shift your phone will die even if it's plugged in the whole time
        I drive from Sydney to Melbourne (12 hr's) with my Nexus 5 plugged in and it worked a treat. I was using Google Maps and during rest breaks I took it of charge to surf the net and take pictures, make calls etc. It lasted the whole way. Not sure what app this couple was using or what other apps and functions they had switched on. However there are some other factors to this: 1) Was there car charger capable of delivering 1000mAh or 500mAh? If the latter then yes this would have resulted in the battery chewing through faster than charging. 2) If they had a micro usb cable plugged into the car charger then along with my first point they should be using the usb cable that was supplied with the phone or one of higher quality which are better/faster at transferring the charge to the phones battery due to better insulation that results in less energy being lost during the transfer. I know a good usb cable makes a world of difference as I tested a few driving to and from Sydney a few times recently.

          Thanks, will look into that and see. We run other software for tracking also which uses the GPS constantly at the same time that google maps is generally running so not sure if 2 apps using GPS makes a difference as well but will definitely check that. I might swap cables and charges with one of them and see what happens for both of us.

            Cool. Like I said though, try a good USB cable and ensure your car charger (the part that goes into the cigarette lighter) charges at least 1A (also labelled as 1000mAh). Only then will you really see the benefit when you have both these things right.

            EDIT: Also if you have bluetooth running and brightness on full, again these things may impact, along with having your screen on all the time. I remember driving from Sydney to Melbourne with Google Maps and it detected that I was going to be on a very long stretch of road so it asked if i wanted to dim the display. Essentially this meant I saved battery from the screen not being on all the time, and the screen would automatically awaken/light up again when I was about 5km from my nearest next turn/roundabout/deviation from the straight path I was on. This helps a lot too and is an absolutely wonderful feature that worked flawlessly.

            Last edited 04/03/15 9:37 am

    Samsung used dropbox, not Google drive. Just sayin.

      theres one drive now instead of drop box. 2 years service.

    So how far out does that camera stick?

    This can be wrapped up in one sentence:

    Samsung going backwards.

    So compared to the competition we have: no expandable storage, less battery (and probably less battery life), and a bigger screen with more pixels sucking up more battery life.

    I hope they don't pull this kind of stunt for the Note 5.

    So lets see how the Samsung marketing machine handles this one.
    I remember when the HTC M7 came out- the comments were basically - no SD card, no removable battery, will be buying a Samsung.

    Now to summarise with the S6:
    Cons:
    No removable battery
    No SD card slot
    No Dual front speakers
    No USB 3
    Smaller battery
    No more IP57 rating

    Pro:
    Design that looks like a copy of the iphone 4 and the Iphone 6 put together.

    The general tone of these articles is always biased towards Samsung.
    M9 review:
    "Under the hood you get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810: an octa-core processor featuring a quad-core 2GHz processor and a quad-core 1.5GHz processor sandwiched together."

    S6 review:
    "That’s made up of a quad-core 2.1GHz processor and a quad-core 1.5Ghz processor sandwiched together to produce a stupid amount of power."

    You will notice this type of tone towards samsung phones in these reviews- everything is always amazing! even though its the same as every other flagship phone.

    Anyways, what do I know- I'm no fanboy, and I don't have a chunk of cash in my pocket from a particular cashed up korean marketing department.

      Have you ever used USB3 on your phone?

      I don't think I've ever even transferred data via the USB on my S4 or S5 before.

        Can't say I've ever needed to use the usb3 for file transfer but for fast charging it can be a god send.

        Putting music onto an SD card, oh wait guess we don't need to worry about that now lol

      No offense...

      The iphone was not first with glass back. And again that design cue you elude to isn't unique again to iphone..

      That article you pasted actually looks almost insulting saying samsung have gone over the top stupidly, not biased i believe, thats my opinion.

      Someone came along a week ago and showed a 2014 samsung phone with what would eventually become an iPhone 6 lookalike. That phone had speaker in same spot just 3.5mm on top. Way before iphone 6... if someone can find that phone everyone see Its nothing unique to apple.

    The overly gushy nature of this report make me question it's honesty.
    This phone is a step backward in many ways.
    Very disappointing, indeed.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now